Penguins begin preparations for Duquesne
By Charles Grove
Now the fun begins — or at least it does soon.
The Youngstown State football team had its first practice in which gameplanning about Duquesne was part of the workout Friday. The home opener is Thursday against the Dukes and now the offense is learning how to attack a different defensive style.
“The next four to five days are getting our guys used to a stacked-30 front that’s different than what we do,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “So there’s adjustments there that will need to be made to get our guys comfortable.”
While the starting quarterback spot is still a mystery between Ricky Davis, Hunter Wells and Trent Hosick, so is how many we’ll see under center on Sept. 1.
“As we go through the week you might see one, you might see two and you might see three when it comes down to it and we see how the game plays out,” Pelini said. “I do know we’re going to need more than one quarterback as the season goes on. Fortunately, we have three good ones to pick from and I have confidence in all three.”
While the coaching staff hasn’t budged on who might get the most snaps, it was Davis again Friday who took the first-string snaps. Wells, who has been battling a sore shoulder, Hosick and Nathan Mays all got time with the backups.
But not even the quarterbacks have been given a whole lot of information about who might be suiting up first on Thursday.
“[The coaches] haven’t talked to us a whole lot,” Hosick said. “I’ve had one conversation with Bo and [offensive coordinator] Coach [Shane] Montgomery and I’m sure the other quarterbacks have had that conversation. That conversation was a week-and-a-half ago. We kind of have a sense, but to be honest both Coach Bo and Coach Montgomery keep telling us that they’re going to need more than one quarterback.
“I don’t know if that’s just a ploy to make sure all of us are ready to go on Thursday night or if they’re genuinely saying they’re going to need all three quarterbacks.”
But top priority for the offense is gameplanning, according to Montgomery. Duquesne’s atypical defensive front poses quite a change from YSU’s 4-3 defense the offense has grown used to seeing most days.
“The biggest thing for us right now is focusing on what we’re going to see about Duquesne both front- wise and coverage-wise,” Montgomery said. “They run a bit of an odd defense that’s different to ours. There’s some of the same tendencies, but the front is a different structure.”
The offense is also now filling in the rest of the depth chart, figuring out who is to be where in certain formations and situations.
“We’re getting close,” Montgomery said. “We’re pretty set on the offensive line. We’re figuring out who our six, seven and eight guys are in case someone has to come out. We’re sound at tight end and running back and receiver-wise we’ve kind of settled into a pattern of where everyone is going to be. We’re making sure if we go to a three or four wide set that we’ve got the best guys on the field, not necessarily who’s going to be backups at each position.”
The team also worked extensively on special-teams scenarios Friday, fine-tuning what will happen in unusual situations.
“We did a lot of speciality situations today,” Pelini said. “Stuff like after a safety, onside kicks, hands team. A bunch of things that we’ll install this week. We’ve hit on a couple but they’re situations that don’t come up a lot and we want to make sure we’re ready to go if it rears its head in a real game.”